What is eyebrow tinting?

Bold brows are in! Sure, you could stack your getting-ready routine with all kinds of cosmetic brow helpers, like pencil, powder, and gel. But these steps take lots of time and effort.

Eyebrow tinting, on the other hand, can give modest eyebrows a fresh, bold look that lasts for several weeks. Not only that, it’s a relatively low-risk, low-cost salon procedure that cuts down on the need for daily makeup.

If your natural brows are a light color or are thinning, chances are you’ve wondered how to make them pop.

Or perhaps you have a lovely new hair color on top, but your brows are still showing telltale grays. Or maybe you love your current brows, but want to reduce your makeup and grooming time in the mornings.

Eyebrow tinting may be the answer.

Several factors can affect exactly how much time you can go in between eyebrow-tinting treatments. The consensus among experts is that eyebrow tinting will last between three to eight weeks. Factors in how long your tinting will last include:

  • the type of dye
  • how hard you scrub your face
  • what type of makeup remover or face cleanser you use
  • sun exposure
  • sunscreen use
  • how quickly your hair grows and sheds.

Generally speaking, expect your tint to last about a month between touch-ups.

Sarah Elizabeth, a licensed aesthetician and makeup artist who routinely does eyebrow tinting, begins by having new clients fill out a medical and contraindication form to make sure an eyebrow tint will be a safe treatment for them.

Next, you can expect your technician to discuss what shade and type of dye will work best for your coloring and goals.

Elizabeth uses a vegetable-based dye and recommends choosing a few shades darker than your hair color to add some depth to the face rather than being too “matchy-matchy” and looking one-dimensional.

She selects a base tint color and then adds an accent color to add depth and dimension to the brow.

Elizabeth also completes a patch test in a hard-to-see place (like behind the ears) on new clients, to make sure they don’t have a bad reaction to the dye. This is an important step with any beauty treatment so close to your eyes.

Once it’s time to go ahead, your technician should take you through something similar to the following steps:

  1. cleansing the area with a pH-stabilizing rinse
  2. brushing the eyebrow hair and mapping out the desired shape
  3. applying a barrier cream (like petroleum jelly) around the eyebrows to prevent staining the skin
  4. applying the tint from the beginning of the eyebrow to the end, in a thick application

How long the dye is left on the eyebrow depends on the shade and coarseness of your hair. It’s less time for people with blonde hair, and longer for those with darker, thicker brows.

If using vegetable-based dye, you’ll need to let the dye sit for anywhere between “two to five minutes, depending on the richness you are trying to achieve,” says Lauren Van Liew, a licensed aesthetician and spa director. “The longer the color stays on, the deeper the color will appear.”

If you opt for a henna-based tint, you may need to let it sit for closer to two hours.

When the dye is finished working, your technician will likely use a cool, damp cloth to gently wipe the area and remove any excess color and barrier cream from the area, Van Liew says.

Most people who try eyebrow tinting won’t experience any harmful side effects, notes Van Liew.

That said, any kind of treatment or product you use near your eyes carries some inherent risks. Any dye made overseas that that might contain coal-tar is not considered safe.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not approve any color additives for eyebrow tinting. Some states, including California, have made it illegal for salons to offer eyebrow tinting at this time.

If you live in a state where eyebrow tinting is allowed, you can help protect your eyes by making sure your aesthetician uses a vegetable or henna-based dye.

There’s nothing you absolutely must do to maintain your tinted brows. However, you can help the dye to last longer by using sunscreen and wearing hats during the day. Also use a gentle cleanser around that area.

You can find eyebrow tinting services ranging anywhere between $10 to $75, but $20 or $25 is typical.

Trying to dye your eyebrows with the same dye you use on your hair is not recommended. Neither is using any kind of permanent dye or temporary tattoo coloring on your eyebrows at home.

You can use over-the-counter cosmetic products like eyebrow pencils, brow pomade, brow mascara, brow gel, or brow powder to enhance, plump up, and define your brows at home. But the longer-lasting treatments should be left to the professionals.

Microblading is another popular salon eyebrow enhancer, though it is a bit more invasive than tinting. Technicians will actually make tiny cuts with a special blade to insert pigment under the skin.

Whether or not you choose to have your eyebrows routinely tinted is a personal choice. But makeup artists like Elizabeth say that the eyebrow tinting business is “exploding.”

People like that the process is minimally invasive, inexpensive, and quick. Though vegetable dyes only need to sit on the brows for a few minutes, henna calls for a much longer time investment.

“The best part is that the process of an eyebrow tinting [appointment] only takes about 25 minutes,” says Raeesa Tar Dagwood a certified brow and lash technician.

Because it’s possible to stretch the time between appointments to up to eight weeks, you are likely to spend less time and effort on daily eyebrow makeup.